FOUR local residents' associations in Sandhurst are urging townspeople to vote against covenants being lifted on land in the Memorial Park so that a youth advice centre can be built.

Sandhurst Residents' Association chairman, Mrs Val Crosby-Clarke said this week: "It is quite clear that the land is for recreational use only and that is how it should remain."

The SRA and the Pipers Field, Snaprails and College Meadows' associations will be putting the case for the status quo in leaflets to be circulated in the town shortly. The town council will argue the case for the new venture.

Town councillors and residents' leaders are currently deciding the final wording of the survey leaflets.

There was uproar last autumn when the council proposed to shut down the Coffee Spot and replace it with the centre. Since then the café has been reprieved but it is still a hot issue in the town and the big attendance at the town meeting last week (nearly 100 against 53 a year ago) showed that the furore has not abated.

The then Mayor, Coun. Peter North, told the meeting that the Charity Commissioners had left it to the town council to decide what to do about the covenant on the land that says it is to be only used for recreational purposes for Sandhurst residents.

Under the Bracknell backed proposals the advice centre would cater not only for Sandhurst youngsters but also for surrounding areas like Bracknell, Camberley, Yateley and Rushmoor.

Former Mayor Ray Earwicker said the opposition in the town had been bigger than for anything he could recall. This was because the town council had not consulted people.

But Coun. North challenged opponents to say where they would like the centre to be built. He added that it had not been possible to trace the 1949 trustees and the only parish councillor from those days still alive, Mrs Kitty Dancy, did not recall details of the trust.

After further criticism from the floor he said that other bodies using the Memorial Park such as the gardening club allowed members from outside the town. But he promised that the Town Council "would be mindful" of the result of any consultation.

The residents' association held a meeting recently and in a statement later it said: "most of those present were worried about the likely escalation of vandalism, drunkenness and bad behaviour in the park."

But the association said the meeting had helped provide better understanding of the scheme and had cooled some of the ill feeling towards the town council.

Many critics still feel, however, that the town council has kept them in the dark and has tried to bulldoze the scheme through.